As an opinion writer for this newspaper, I’ve had the distinct privilege of making readers laugh, confused, upset and moved. Typically, I’m not as serious as I look in the picture above, but The Free Press has done so much for me over the past three years that I can’t help but feel somber talking about my exit.

Working at this newspaper has probably been the single most beneficial real world experience I’ve had in my life thus far. As an English major, I do a lot of writing, and writing an article every week has helped me to rein in my voice, as well as learn the concept of a “filter” (something my girlfriend truly appreciates when we’re talking with other people during dinner.) It has improved my writing on all levels, which makes writing things like response papers and essays a whole lot easier.

My days here have also been an exercise in time management. As college students, we constantly feel like there aren’t enough minutes in the day to accomplish all the work we have on our plate. Between class, homework, sports, extra-curricular activities and a part-time job, there’s not much time left to do other things. But as backwards as it sounds, working at the newspaper has taught me time management with everything else in my life. We have deadlines to meet, and getting a finished copy of the paper to the printer on time requires everyone to work as a team. We often do the brunt of the work on the weekend, which means that school work has to be done earlier in the week.

As an editor, working for the paper is certainly no cake walk. In fact, I’d often get frustrated with the various little things such as last-minute changes (which quickly become last-hour changes) that I thought would take five minutes but ended up eating into my weekend time. But I find that I only get frustrated with things I care most deeply about. Thankfully, I’ve made several lifelong friends over the past three years at this paper. All of them are experiencing the same stress that I am, and we’re all in this boat together. We vent to each other, but we also have a lot of meaningful discussion, and we pretty much spend every weekend together. We keep one another sane, and my relationships with the other editors of this paper are ones that I hold close to my heart. Want to make true friends, become a better writer and learn to manage your time more efficiently? Work at The Free Press.

The purpose of this article isn’t just a recap of the ways that The Free Press has positively impacted my life, and it isn’t a pseudo-recruitment piece telling you to come on over and start working for the paper. It’s a testament to the value of teamwork and friendship that comes with working in such a close environment like the newspaper. Working for The Free Press has helped me become who I am today. To be quite honest, I don’t know who or how many of you have read my articles. I don’t know who I have touched through my writing. But if even one person has felt improved in some way after finishing one of my articles, then I’ve done my job.

While I’ve enjoyed and cherished my time at USM and The Free Press, the truth is that I’ll forget a good portion of it. I’ll forget where I sat in my jazz class during freshman year, even though I enjoyed the class so much. I’ll forget why I got so stressed over that six-page final for ENG 230 since I ended up getting an A in the class. I’ll forget what my dorm room looked like in Philippi and what posters occupied its walls. But even when I’m well into my elderly years, attending school reunions and blogging about the benefits of Depends and denture cream, I’ll never forget my time at The Free Press.

Andrew Henry was a staff writer from Sep. 2010 to May 2012 and Perspectives Editor from Sep. 2012 to May 2013.


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